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From the Archives: Marking our Anniversaries

With 2022 marking Gilman's 125th anniversary, it's an apt time to look back on how Gilman commemorated previous milestones.

In 1947, Gilman celebrated its first big anniversary—50 years—with the publication of "Gilman Walls Will Echo: The Story of the Gilman Country School 1897-1947," by Bradford McE. Jacobs '38. In 125 pages, Bradford documents the founding of the School, stressing how the success of Gilman was far from certain. Instead, Bradford demonstrates how it was a "long climb from the status of a miniature experiment at Homewood to its present status of one of the dominant private schools in the Middle Atlantic Area." In addition to the book, a special 50th anniversary weekend was held October 3-4, 1947, which included an alumni tea at Headmaster Henry Callard's house, an alumni banquet at the Sheraton-Belvedere Hotel, and a 50th anniversary convocation in the gymnasium. The convocation featured speakers Dr. Millicent Carey McIntosh, Dean of Barnard College, and Mr. Frank D. Ashburn, Headmaster of Brooks School in North Andover, MA. The weekend continued with a community luncheon and a victorious football game against Severn. 

Twenty-five years later, in September 1972, Gilman commemorated the School's 75th anniversary in a three-day series of events. The first event was the annual alumni banquet, which featured a talk by revered Gilman alum Walter Lord '35. On Friday, the School hosted two panels, whose members discussed these questions: "What values does the community seek?" and "How should the School respond?" On Saturday, a convocation in the gymnasium featured an address delivered by Dr. Roger Howell, Jr. '54, President of Bowdoin College. Similar to 25 years earlier, the convocation was followed by a community lunch and a football victory. To commemorate the School's progress, Gilman also published a 75th anniversary edition of the Gilman Alumni Bulletin, edited by Alexander Armstrong '33, a Gilman English teacher from 1951-1979, which illustrated the School's history through photographs.

Gilman's largest anniversary celebration was saved for the centennial year, in 1997. The yearlong celebration began with a Board of Trustees 100th anniversary meeting in January, and continued with the 100th Founders Day celebration at Homewood in June, a Centennial Challenge Symposia consisting of panels in April 1997, September 1997, and April 1998, and a Festival of Arts in May 1998. Of all the festivities, the highlight was the Centennial Gala Weekend, held October 17-19 1997, which included a golf outing, a pep rally, a parade of classes, football and soccer games, a community lunch, an author reception, and an anniversary dinner and dance. A lasting legacy of the centennial (in addition to the Centennial Campaign: Foundation for a New Century, which raised more than $18 million) was the publication of "Gilman Voices, 1897-1997." Edited by Patrick Smithwick '69, the book tells the history of Gilman through first-person narratives, written by Gilman community members. 

In 2022, Gilman's 125th—officially named the quasquicentennial—anniversary comes during a particularly unique time in history. A global pandemic may change the way we gather but it won't stop us from celebrating the milestone that is 125 years of excellence, opportunity, and growth. Gilman's journey continues.